FOX Sports brings spring training to the troops

From Feb. 4-8, FOX Sports brought Spring Training to the troops as current MLB players, Hall of Fame legends, FOX Sports broadcasters and the FOX Sports Girls paid a visit to U.S. Army Garrison Grafenwoehr in Germany. It’s the Army’s premier training base for U.S. and international troops. The following is a look at the trip from Danielle, one of the FOX Sports Girls who took part in it all:

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What do 11 FOX Sports Girls, U.S. Army Garrison Grafenwoehr base and baseball have in common? FOX Sports Bringing Spring Training to the Troops!

No words can truly describe the unforgettable experience I had in Germany last week. With 10 other FOX Sports Girls, former and current MLB players, and other FOX baseball broadcasters, it was truly a pleasure to bring the joy of baseball to the troops! Physical training, simulation exercises, and sharing time with soldiers were just a few highlights from my week. Here’s a look into my day-to-day activities and my time spent there! Enjoy!

Day 1

We arrived at Grafenwoehr Army Base after a busy travel day and were headed to our first event, a Youth Sports Baseball Clinic at the Field House. I manned the T-ball station with FOX Sports girls Annilie, from Florida, and Asha, from FOX Sports West, and our very own Bob Brenly! I may not have been the most qualified for the job, but I had a blast hanging out with the kids and admiring their skills!

We wrapped up the clinic and all headed back to the hotel to settle in a little bit before having dinner with the military community leaders and support staff. It was great getting to know them and the roles they play at the base. Before we headed off to bed, we drafted our wiffle ball teams – this was a lot of fun! FOX Sports Girl Jenny, from the North, and Liddy, from Southwest, were the two team captains. I’m not going to lie, I was a little worried that I would get picked last. Thank goodness Jenny picked me first to be a part of the Warriors! Our team was made up of FOX Sports girls Jenny, Asha, Annilie and myself. Along with Tim Salmon, Heath Bell, Rollie Fingers and Wade Boggs. GO WARRIORS!

I was so excited for the rest of our trip and all the amazing things planned! I definitely needed a good night’s sleep. We had to be up early the next morning for physical training… I was a bit nervous!

Day 2

5:30 a.m. wakeup call and my nerves had me out of bed and ready to conquer physical training at the Non-Commissioned Officers Academy. It was cold, dark, and I wasn’t sure I was ready for this! An hour later after circuit drills on the cold pavement, chin-ups and running I felt a sense of accomplishment. I had made it through PT!

One of the coolest things we did throughout this trip was eat breakfast and lunch at different dining facilities around the base. We had a chance to connect and learn a little bit about many different soldiers’ lives. I even had the chance of meeting a few soldiers from Arizona! Sharing lunch and dinner with the soldiers was one of my favorite things we had the chance to do, just being able to have a conversation and let them know how much I appreciate them was very special to me.

Our day continued on as we participated in a few different simulation exercises. This was one of the most unique things I’ve ever done. Our first simulation exercise was a computer simulation. We were all assigned a mission and were in Humvees (we had steering wheels by the computer screens). Our simulated mission was that the base had been attacked/invaded! Guess who was in the first Humvee? Yep, me! I’m not the best driver, so I grilled my instructing soldier on exactly how to do everything I was supposed to do so I wouldn’t blow the mission! Luckily, the driving wasn’t as difficult as I had thought, but I did end up getting blown up … I don’t think we passed the mission. It was a lot of fun though and required teamwork from all of us, which was great.

The next simulation activity was awesome! We were placed in a Stryker vehicle with a 360 video screen surrounding us. The video screen placed us in Iraq, and we drove along roads and had to look for any suspicious behavior or fight back if attacked. It was crazy and interesting to know that this is what the soldiers do to train and get prepared to go into battle.  

After our activities and lunch, it was time for our wiffle ball game! Along with our teammates, we were with other soldiers who made up the rest of our teams. We also had a pretty big audience cheering us on! It was so much fun having the soldiers participate in the game, and true to military form, both teams were extremely competitive. The losing team had to do push-ups, and after PT, I wouldn’t have minded skipping it! I’m happy to say that the Warriors came out on top! Our team won! However, the sergeant reminded us they we are all a team, and we leave no one behind. So we all participated and did the push-ups together. What a fun game and a great lesson of teamwork in never leaving a man behind.  That was one of the most important lessons that I took away from this trip … so simple, but so true!

Later, we enjoyed another lovely dinner and had the chance to try a few German beers. I’m a beer girl, so this was fun for me! My favorite was Zoigl. Ever heard of it?

Day 3

Waking up on Day 3, I couldn’t believe this was our last day at the base! Where had the time gone? The snow was beautiful (even though it was a bit cold for this Arizona girl)!

I was excited to be able to participate in the Commanders Challenge, an outdoor obstacle course. This was one of the hardest things I have EVER done. To simplify, this was a course spread out over 5 miles. It consisted of pushing a vehicle, half-mile run, flipping tires, half-mile run with a log, 50 chin-ups collectively (out of our group of 12), half-mile run, carrying/running with someone on a stretcher for a half-mile run, running with a gas mask on (one of the hardest parts of the course) and assembling rifles. The fact that soldiers are able to make it through this is incredible. It’s called the Commanders Challenge for a reason – it was extremely challenging. It required teamwork with each other and encouragement. It might have been hard, but I’m so glad I had the chance to participate!

Our last activity of the day was a Stryker ride and an on-base museum tour. The Stryker is an armored combat vehicle, and let me tell you, this thing is heavy duty! We took a ride around the base and got a chance to learn about the controls on the inside and how the vehicle worked. It was hard for me to imagine that soldiers go into battle in these vehicles and what that must be like. It was incredible.

The Strykers dropped us off at the Tour Dragoons Heritage Center, and we were able to learn some history about the Army. It was really cool because there were many soldiers that dressed in traditional urmy Uniforms that dated back to 1836. I learned a lot and it was fun to snap some pictures.

Since it was our last night in Germany, we ventured to an off-base restaurant called Puettner Braeu. Here we got the chance to try some local food. I recommend the schnitzel – it was pretty good! I also had some great conversation with some Army wives who talked to me about life in Germany and how they adjusted coming from the States! The last night was one of my favorites because we all got a chance to talk about our experiences over the past week and how memorable they were. I wish you all could have experienced it with me!

This trip was both very humbling and exciting.  I not only walked away from this as a better person but very thankful for all that the Armed Forces do to protect us.  Coming to Grafenwoehr and giving back to the soldiers was life changing. The amount of appreciation I have for these men and women has grown exponentially from experiencing a day in their lives and getting the chance to know them on a more personal level. I was really excited to be chosen for this trip initially, because my youngest brother, Sean, is currently at the Naval Academy at Annapolis. I was excited to get another view into the lives of the military from an Army perspective. Being able to share this experience with my brother was something incredible I was able to take back. To all the men and women that serve – THANK YOU!